Letter to the Editor – Home Distilling: A Public Safety and Health Concern

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A home distilling operation from The Growler’s story on Modern Moonshining // Photo by Aaron Davidson

The following letter to the editor was submitted by Michele Tuchner, the director of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division, in response to our recent article about home distilling, Modern Moonshining.

To the editor,

Even though the recent article “Modern Moonshining” (The Growler, Issue 25, November 2015) mentions that homemade distillery operations are illegal under state and federal law, it failed to talk about the dangers of both producing and consuming unlicensed distilled spirits.

The Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DPS-AGED) is concerned that some people might have been left with the impression that these are harmless operations. They are not.

The state of Minnesota requires a license for the manufacturing and distribution of spirits to ensure everyone’s safety. Manufacturing spirits can be dangerous because methanol and other chemicals are used in distillery operations. In fact, there have been documented cases across the country of explosions as the result of home distilling.

Just a few months ago in Vancouver, Washington, illegal distilling operation resulted in an explosion and property damage. In July, a makeshift moonshine operation caused a fire in California.

Recent stories from around the world emphasize the dangers of drinking moonshine. Consuming distilled spirits, or moonshine, can also be toxic. Consuming a batch with methanol and other chemicals can lead to severe illness or even death. In Istanbul, dozens of people died from consuming moonshine and more than 100 people lost their lives in India drinking the deadly concoction.

For your safety and the safety of the public, we encourage those with homemade distilleries to stop manufacturing immediately. The Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division encourages future entrepreneurs to become educated in the distilling process and become properly licensed. For smaller operations, DPS-AGED issues two types of micro-distillery licenses, for the manufacturing of distilled spirits.

Michele Tuchner
Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division director

 

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